The US Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has announced the adoption of a final rule that will improve roadway safety by employing technology to strengthen commercial truck and bus drivers’ compliance with hours-of-service regulations that prevent fatigue.
“Since 1938, complex, on-duty/off-duty logs for truck and bus drivers were made with pencil and paper, virtually impossible to verify,” said US Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx. “This automated technology not only brings logging records into the modern age, it also allows roadside safety inspectors to unmask violations of federal law that put lives at risk.”
The final rule requiring the use of electronic logging devices (ELDs) will result in an annual net benefit of more than $1 billion—largely by reducing the amount of required industry paperwork. It will also increase the efficiency of roadside law enforcement personnel in reviewing driver records. Strict protections are included that will protect commercial drivers from harassment.
The four main elements of the ELD final rule include:
•Requiring commercial truck and bus drivers who currently use paper log books to maintain hours-of-service records to adopt ELDs within two years. It is anticipated that approximately three million drivers will be impacted.
•Strictly prohibiting commercial driver harassment. The final rule provides both procedural and technical provisions designed to protect commercial truck and bus drivers from harassment resulting from information generated by ELDs.
•Setting technology specifications detailing performance and design requirements for ELDs so manufacturers are able to produce compliant devices and systems—and purchasers are enabled to make informed decisions.
•Establishing new hours-of-service supporting document (shipping documents, fuel purchase receipts, etc) requirements that will result in additional paperwork reductions. In most cases, a motor carrier would not be required to retain supporting documents verifying on-duty driving time.
The ELD final rule permits use of smart phones and other wireless devices as ELDs, so long as they satisfy technical specifications, are certified, and are listed on an FMCSA website. Canadian- and Mexican-domiciled drivers will also be required to use ELDs when operating on US roadways.
Motor carriers that have previously installed compliant automatic on-board recording devices may continue to use the devices for an additional two years beyond the compliance date.
A copy of the ELD final rule is available here.
Further information, including a comprehensive, searchable list of frequently asked questions, and a calendar of upcoming free training webinars, is available at www.fmcsa.dot.gov/elds.